Dropping the ball: Why the Gators' receiving corps reveals a hole in Florida's coaching staff

Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

Florida's receivers have been disappointing this season, but part of the blame lies in the Gator coaching structure.

The 2012 season has been a mess for the Florida receiving corps, there's no doubt about it. Dropped passes, an inability to separate from coverage, and shoddy route-running have all combined to assemble the worst group of receivers in years.

Numbers Don't Lie

Quinton Dunbar's 24 catches are the least of any leading receiver in the SEC.

Florida's receivers have combined for 47 catches on the season, worst in the SEC.

Six SEC players have 47 or more catches by themselves. This includes Donte Moncrief, and you have no idea who he plays for*.

Florida has the fewest pass completions of any team in the SEC

Putting It All Together

The Gators seem to have no one that can put it all together and step up as a go-to receiver. There are guys who run good routes but don't separate, and guys who are fast but poor route-runners. There were also the recruiting day misses of Nelson Agholor and Stefon Diggs, which results in less competition among current players. True, Agholor has only has 16 catches on the year himself (which would be good for second on the Gators), but he is playing behind two NFL Draft picks at USC, and, even so, he blew up for six catches for 162 yards and a touchdown against Oregon this month.

Look, I do believe these guys are talented and can get the job done, but I do not believe they are talented enough to overcome the glaring void in the Gator's coaching staff.

The Gators Don't Have a True Receivers Coach

Well, they have Bush Hamdan, former Boise State backup QB and current Florida Gator receivers coach (promoted this season). Remember, 2011 receivers coach Aubrey Hill abruptly resigned before training camp, citing "personal reasons" that may have been Hill's alleged involvement in the Nevin Shapiro scandal that has rocked Miami. While Hill's effectiveness as a coach was still in question (Deonte Thompson led Florida receivers with 21 catches in 2011, huzzah!), having a second-year coach around would have been nice.

I'm not blaming Hamdan at all, he's a young guy and may end up being a fine coach. When the news broke, Muschamp decided to go with Hamdan as opposed to finding someone else on short notice.

"Coach Hamdan played quarterback for Coach Pease at Boise State and is the most familiar of anyone on our staff with the terminology and philosophy of Coach Pease's offense,'' Muschamp said. "We feel like this is a good plan for the fall and I will make a decision in December about moving forward."

This begs other questions, such as how much is Pease trying to coach the receivers along with the quarterbacks, along with trying to figure our how to conjure up points with this group? Hadman may have been the best option at the time, but is Pease maybe not doing enough with the wideout, considering their position coach is fresh out of Sacramento State? That's quite a jump in the coaching world, akin to the one many were wondering if Kerwin Bell would make from Jacksonville to Gainesville.

We saw in the tough years of 2009 and 2010 that it is difficult for a coach to be a coordinator and a position coach. Steve Addazio attempted to be the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, and the result was lesser performance and more sacks allowed than in the previous years, where Addazio was just a line coach. There is simply too much to oversee, game plan, and execute that coaches find themselves and their players stretched too thin.

The only pairing of coordinator with position group that remotely makes sense on offense is the QB-offensive coordinator/coach relationship; QBs are expected to be the "coach on the field," anyway. Whatever the practice responsibilities are, it's clear it hasn't worked. I don't know the answers, but the Florida receivers have been an under-developed bunch, and have under-achieved this season.

The situation was a difficult one to begin with, because no one expects for a position coach to leave like Hill did. However, Gator fans have to wonder how much the void left by his departure has impacted the lack of performance by the Florida receivers this season. Hill was also (reputedly) a great recruiter, and Florida will need someone who can motivate top WR recruits to choose the Gators in February.

It will be interesting to see how Muschamp handles the WRs coach position in December, and how quickly whomever is tasked with doing it can turn around this group in 2013.

At least that's assuming that it gets turned around?

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